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VISITING THE VATICAN The Best The Vatican Museum Has To Offer

VISITING THE VATICAN CITY | HIGHLIGHTS AND TOP ATTRACTIONS OF THE HOLY SEE

VISITING THE VATICAN | VATICAN TOP ATTRACTIONS | HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VATICAN

Visiting the Vatican The Best Vatican Museum Has To Offer Highlights of the Vatican best of the Vatican City Tours

Visiting the Vatican City | St Peter’s Basilica | Sistine Chapel | Raphael’s Room | Vatican Gardens

Highlights of the Vatican and top Attractions. The best of the Vatican City, Holy See – Guided Tours and Tickets | The Vatican has been an independent state since 1929. Measuring 0.44 square kilometers, it is the smallest independent state in the world. There are so many attractions packed within, that you will be surprised to learn it can take a few days to see it all. That is the reason why it is important to study what you want to see. If you’re visiting the Vatican, you cannot leave without seeing Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We have to mention the magnificent rooms in the Vatican Palace decorated by the greatest baroque and renaissance artists of the time. They are priceless artworks scattered over the many museums in the Vatican. For those with a special interest, the Museum of sacred arts, early Christian churches, catacombs, the Museum of Secular Arts fabulous sculptures, the many galleries with such fascinating artwork and sculptures by the likes of Munch, Dali, Matisse, Michelangelo, Raphael, and so many others cannot be overlooked.

Discover the best attractions in the Vatican!

Visiting the Vatican City Tours – Highlights and top attractions of the Vatican City in Rome

1. St. Peter’s Basilica

Visiting the Vatican City | St Peter’s Basilica is the iconic must-place visit in the Vatican. Built between the 16th to 18th centuries, it is believed that this is where Saint Peter was buried. A German monk, Martin Luther was the instigator of the Protestant Reformation when in the 16th century, there was a sell-off of assets to finance the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Before you even enter the church, you are greeted by the statue of Constantine by Bernini, an Italian sculptor and architect, famous for his Baroque style. The knave measures or warping 185 meters and is 46 meters tall. It rises to a Dome of 119 meters. It can accommodate 60,000 congresses. Behind the reinforced glass, you will see Michelangelo’s famous “Pieta” which depicts Jesus laying on the lap of Mary after the crucifixion. Incredibly Michelangelo was only 24 when he created this masterpiece. Something not to be missed is the Chapel of Sacrament. “Only those who wish to pray may enter”. This is a sign which reads in front of the Chapel of Sacrament. This is to let visitors know that this is a place to reflect.

Four large pentagonal piers, hold onto Michelangelo’s Dome. Right under it is Bernini’s canopy( bronze Baldacchino), designed in a Baroque style. It is believed that under this canopy is the tomb of Saint Peter. There are many other tombs of other popes in Saint Peter’s Basilica. You can also take the stairs or a lift to the roof. If you take the steep steps, be prepared to take 330 steps. You will now be able to take a closer look at the dome structure and the fabulous views over Saint peter’s square. In the underground of the church is the location of the Vatican necropolis, which is the final resting place of several popes.

2. Sistine Chapel

Visiting the Vatican City | In the years between 1473-84 Pope Sixtus IV, built the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is held high in sacredness as it here, the Pope uses it for service, and special occasions are celebrated. When a Pope passes away, a conclave is held to select the next successor. The Sistine Chapel is renowned for the Renaissance painting from the likes of Michelangelo, and other artists whose paintings and frescos adorn the walls and ceilings. Between 1980 and 1994 major restorative works were carried out. Specialists were called in to remove dust, grease, soot – built up from the candles burning, and overpainting. When the overpainting was removed, the original colors were revealed.

Large frescoes of biblical scenes in beautiful sceneries cover the sidewalls and were painted for Sixtus IV by famous painters such as Signorelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, Rosselli, Botticelli, Perugino, and others. Other walls depict scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Without much help from assistants between 1508 and 1512, Michelangelo had a grand vision. He wanted to depict a scene from Genesis; the depiction of creation. If you have read Genesis, you can now imagine Michelangelo recreating the beginning. God, light, darkness, sun, moon, the land, the sea, Adam, and Eve all the way to Noah. Words do little justice to what the visitors will actually see. You will also see Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgment.’ It is so visually stunning; it has left many visitors in tears.

3. Highlights of the Vatican Palace – Appartamento Borgia , Raphael Rooms, and Cappella Niccoline

Appartamento Borgia

Vatican top attractions – Born in a noble family (Borgia), Pope Alexander VI, built the Appartamento Borgia. It was a private residence for him and his family. There were five rooms built; each was distinct with rich art and history. Pinturicchio, an Italian Renaissance painter, was commissioned to paint a scene that depicted Christian themes and a humanist theme, which depicted, detailed, realistic scenes.

Room 1- Prophets and Sibyls were Greek oracles that prophesied events.

Room 2- The Creed( A statement of faith) Apostles and prophets.

Room 3- Allegories of 7 liberal arts (Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music).

Room 4 – Legends of saints

Room 5 – New Testament scenes

Highlights of the Vatican | Raphael Rooms

Visiting the Vatican Museum – These rooms were commissioned for the people’s apartments. Pope Julius II and later by Pope Leo X, who were art lovers, wanted the rooms to be beautifully decorated. Raphael created some wonderful frescoes. Rafael reinvented historical painting, and it had a very profound impact for years to come. His genius lay in creating a central focal point and positioning characters in perspective. This created a stunning visual impact. The Stanza Della Segnatura( Room of the Signatura) depicts frescos related to, poetry, philosophy, law, and theology, Stanza di Eliodoro(“Room of Heliodorus”) depicts The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.

Vatican top Attractions These precious works and others in the Sistine Chapel highlight the Renaissance Period of supremacy in the paintings. The culture and tradition of that period are beautifully conveyed covering humanist themes, history, philosophy, justice, law, and mathematics.

Visiting the Vatican City Tours | St Peter’s Basilica | Sistine Chapel | Raphael’s Room | Vatican Gardens | Highlights of the Vatican

The Sala dei Chiaroscuro

The Sala de Chiaroscuro (Room of the Chiaroscuro), was a space for private meetings with the Cardinals in the past and is known for its coffered (sunken panels) wooden ceiling. The weapons and exploits of Pope Leo X Medici are on display.

Nicholas V’s Chapel/ Cappella Niccolini

Fra Angelico, an early Renaissance Florentine monk, has created frescos here. These frescoes are simple and delicate, depicting the life and death of  St Lawrence, and St Steven yet is masterpieces and show the great talent of this genius painter.

4.  Picture Gallery – Pinacoteca

Visiting the Vatican City -The Pinacoteca contains a total of 16 rooms filled with priceless art from the Middle Ages up to contemporary times. Napolean robbed many precious artworks, but still, many remain. The artworks are organized in chronological order and show how western painting has evolved. Here you will also find Tuscan paintings, Umbrian, Sienese, a Madonna, including a Giotto triptych, and the famous St. Nicholas (He was an early Christian Bishop known to perform many miracles) of Bari by Fra Angelico. Other honorable mentions found in the picture gallery include works of:

  • Filippo Lippi – A triptych
  • Pinturicchio – Coronation of the Virgin
  • Perugino – Madonna
  • Raphael – Madonna of Foligno | Transfiguration (his last painting)
  • Da Vinci -St Jerome (unfished work)
  • Titian – Madonna
  • Caravaggio – Entombment

5.  St Peter’s Square ( Piazza San Pietro)

Bernini laid out St Peter’s Square in front of St Peter’s Basilica. It was a place for all the Catholics from across the globe to gather in one place. Each Easter Sunday, it is filled to maximum capacity, including other festive occasions. At 372 meters long, the oval-shaped area is enclosed by colonnades, semicircular in shape, and 140 statues of saints. Fountains are located on each end of the oval, and the center of the oval is a 25-meter Egyptian obelisk. It weighs a whopping 350 tons. The most striking part of St Peter’s Square is the balcony, the central balcony from the Basilica where the Pope stands and delivers blessings greets the thousands below with a wave, and where canonizations and beatifications are proudly announced. It is also from this very balcony that a new Pope elected by the conclave is announced.

Visiting the Vatican City Tours | St Peter’s Basilica | Sistine Chapel | Raphael’s Room | Vatican Gardens | Highlights of the Vatican

6.   Museo Pio Clementino

Vatican top Attractions | If you are searching for the largest collection of ancient sculptures in the world, look no further as they are found in the Vatican museums. The artworks and sculptures are not haphazardly displayed, but in fact, arranged in order by two popes; Popes Clement XIV and Pius VI. Highlights of some pieces in the galleries include:

Sala a Croce Greca –  Red porphyry sarcophagi of Constantine’s daughter, Constantia, and his mother, St. Helen

Sala Delle Muse – The first-century-BC work by Apollonius of Athens, called Belvedere Torso

Gabinetto Delle Maschere – Theatrical masks on a mosaic floor from Tivoli.

Galleria Delle Statue – Candelabri Barberini, the finest of ancient candelabras on display

Cortile del Belvedere – The Apollo Belvedere ( one of the most famous statues in the Vatican)

Galleria Dei Busti – Frescoes by Pinturicchio depicting the life of St Jerome

Laocoön Group – A sculpture showing the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons, struggling with two huge snakes.

7.   Vatican Necropolis

Visiting the Vatican City | There is an archaeological treasure beneath Saint Peter’s Basilica. Beneath the cathedral lies the Papal grottoes where Popes are entombed in private chapels. Not many visitors are aware the excavations have revealed extensive ruins and burial grounds from a much earlier period; as early as the 1st Century BCE. The excavations have revealed a Pagan burial site, Christian and Pagan graves, arches, and stone crypts dating back to the 5th century. The most significant discovery is that of the gravesite of Saint Peter’s remains. This part of the cathedral is strictly limited to a small number of visitors each day and tickets are purchased through the Vatican Excavations office, or it is highly recommended to book a private tour of the Vatican necropolis which assures entry.

8.   Visiting the Vatican | Vatican Gardens

Visiting the Vatican City | Pope Nicholas II created the Vatican gardens in the 13th century as a space for reflection. Over time, grassy spaces, orchids comma, and landscaped gardens have been added and now The Vatican Gardens nearly cover one-half of the Vatican City today. Stunning azaleas and other lovely flowers are found dotted along the paths in individual pots. There are also many wonderful trees found along with the Vatican Gardens, and many have been gifted to the Vatican City by the head of state of other countries. There is an olive tree that was gifted by the State of Israel to symbolize cordial relations with the head of the Catholic establishment.

Visitors are not allowed to roam freely in the Vatican Gardens and have to be booked in advance.

9.   Visiting the Vatican Museum | Etruscan Museum | Highlights of the Vatican City Tours

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI, the Etruscan Museum has 18 rooms of artifacts all related to the Etruscans, ancient people of Eturia, in Italy who lived between the Tiber and Arno rivers and their belief in the afterlife. Through excavated graves, artworks and everyday objects have been discovered besides skeletons and other funeral paraphernalia. Ahead of Athena and fine Etruscan vases have been recovered and are on display.

10.   The Vatican City Library

The Vatican Library is the richest in the world, and the collection is as follows dating back to 1450.

  • 7000 books printed before 1501
  • 80,000 manuscripts
  • 25,000 medieval hand-written books
  • Since the 15th century, you can only imagine how many books the library now has

Built by Domenico Fontana, you can enjoy some of the most wonderful reading treasures available in the 70-meter hall which include, Biblical codices, beautiful hand-illuminated Gospels, parchment manuscripts, early printed books, papyri, and ancient scrolls. Now, new additions have been made which include medals and pontifical coins.

11.   Visiting the Vatican Museum | Cortile Della Pigna – Egyptian Museum | Highlights of the Vatican City Tours

Visiting the Vatican City | The collection was brought from Tivoli from the collection of Emperor Hadrian by Pope Gregory XVI, and later, the collection was put together by Pius VIII. There are a total of nine rooms exhibiting Egyptian artifacts. You will find bronzes, mummified heads, wooden sarcophagi, statues of gods, statues of animals, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. You will find artifacts from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Assyrian palaces.

12.   The Museo Chiaramonti – Vatican top Attractions

Highlights of the Vatican | Founded by Pope Pius VII, The Museo Chiaramonti is located in a long gallery leading to the Papal Palace. Greek and Roman art are dominant here. You will find copies of Greek sculptors’ work by Roman artists. There are about a thousand sculptors here. Highlights include:

Augustus of Prima Porta – The Emperor’s statue  found in a villa

A statue of the God of the Nile

Spear Carrier – By Polykleitos

Discus Throwers  -Located in the Sala Della Biga

Gilded bronze peacocks – Hadrian’s Mausoleum

.Accommodation close to the Vatican Museum

Vatican top Attractions | Skip The Lines ToVisiting The Vatican Museum | Highlights of the Vatican

The Vatican City is a very, very, busy tourist hotspot. It is not only an attraction but due to this religious significance to the Catholic Faith, it gets crowded. You may end up spending many hours queuing up to get through the attractions such as The Sistine Chapel Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. If you are hard-pressed for time or simply cannot wait in long lines, it is recommended that you book the skip-the-line tours of the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. This 3-hour tour allows you to enjoy these major attractions and their delightful artifacts, sculptures, painting, and frescos of famous masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo. A private guided tour will allow you to immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Vatican. If you prefer a small group for a more Internet experience, options are available, and the group size is limited to 11.

Top Churches-In Italy

 Italy has some of the best churches and cathedrals in the world. They are renowned for their architectural ingenuity, fabulous art collections and many other treasures.

St Mark’s Basilica in Venice

Gold Mosaics and pillars of rare stone such as jasper and alabaster await visitors here.

Santa Maria Assunta in Siena

The fabulous exterior made of white and greenish-black marble is breathtaking. Donatello and Bernini have added their genius with their artworks which are found in the interior.

Monreale Cathedral in Sicily

This cathedral was built in the 12th Century is known for its grandeur.

Highlights of the Vatican | When In Rome, Do Not Miss These Top Attractions!

The Colosseum

The largest amphitheater ever built. It is an iconic symbol of Rome and one of the top three attractions in the world, with over seven million visitors a year.

The Pantheon

This is in much better condition than the Colosseum! The Pantheon honors the Goddess and Gods of the past. Step back into the past.

Visiting the Vatican City Tours | St Peter’s Basilica | Sistine Chapel | Raphael’s Room | Vatican Gardens | Highlights of the Vatican

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Visiting the Vatican City Tours  St Peter’s Basilica | Sistine Chapel | Raphael’s Room | Vatican Gardens

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